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It is normal to notice fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging on your skin as you age. While there’s nothing you can do to prevent natural skin aging, taking proper care of your skin can help slow down the process.
Skin aging is generally a concern when it happens prematurely, such as the development of aging symptoms in youth. This can occur due to various factors such as pollution, sun exposure, and even stress.
You can easily prevent and delay premature skin aging by following protective and preventive measures. Here’s how you can keep your skin looking younger for longer.
1. Use the Right Sunscreen Daily
Your skin is constantly exposed to solar radiation, which contains harmful UV rays. Upon contact with your skin, both UVA and UVB rays produce reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals, which can damage your tissues, fats, protein fibers, and even DNA.
Furthermore, these reactive oxygen molecules can affect the collagen fibers of your skin, especially in the areas exposed to the sun, such as the neck, face, forearms, and hands. Such damage can lead to aging signs, (1) such as fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.
This premature aging caused by sun exposure is also known as photoaging. (2) It can also affect your hair protein, causing changes in the hair texture. (3) Therefore, it is essential to apply sunscreen every day, even if there is not much sunlight, to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to block both UVA and UVB rays.
A wide variety of sunscreens are easily available, and it is essential to choose one suitable for your skin for best results. Opt for sunscreens that are water resistant and contain zinc or titanium oxide.
If you have oily skin, choose water-based gel sunscreens. If you have normal skin, use sunscreen lotions and creams. You can wear matte sunscreen formulas under your makeup and use tinted sunscreens for touch-ups throughout the day, as they help even out the skin tone. If you sweat profusely, you can go for sweat-proof sunscreens.
2. Cleanse Daily, Exfoliate Weekly, but Avoid Overscrubbing
The pores in your skin are home to hair follicles where your hair originates, as well as sebaceous glands that release natural oils to keep your skin moisturized and nourished.
It is common for dirt, oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria to accumulate in your skin pores, causing blockage. This prevents the skin from breathing, increases the risk of infections, and also leads to acne breakouts.
Therefore, it is vital to cleanse your skin to remove the dirt and oil and prevent various skin problems, which can otherwise ultimately lead to the development of signs of skin aging. While the number of times you wash your face in a day depends on your skin types, in general, it is recommended to cleanse your face twice a day.
Specifically, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, wash your face using a cleanser once in the morning and once before bedtime. On the other hand, if you have normal or dry skin, wash your face using a cleanser before bedtime and only with water in the morning.
Make sure to use a mild, nonabrasive cleanser free of sulfates, alcohol, and parabens. Also, wash your hands before touching your face and avoid scrubbing it. Do not use excessively cold or hot water for washing your face. Pat your face dry with a soft towel instead of rubbing it harshly.
Also note that exfoliating your face weekly is just as important as washing your face every day. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, leaving your skin smooth, supple, and young looking. You can use either face serums or scrubs that contain microbeads and grains or to exfoliate your skin. Serums are gentler on the skin and can provide deep exfoliation.
Select serums that contain mild alpha and beta hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid, malic acid, and glycolic acid, since these are highly effective in removing dead skin cells and maintaining skin pH at the same time.
Avoid exfoliating or scrubbing your skin more than once weekly as it can cause irritation, inflammation, and even post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Similarly, avoid washing your face with a cleanser more than two times a day, as it can alter your skin pH, increasing the risk of infections.
Note: You can consult your dermatologist for microdermabrasion procedures that involve removing the top layer of skin with a handheld tool. This procedure, which takes about an hour to complete, can improve the penetration of different skin-bleaching and antiaging products into the skin, increasing their effectiveness.
3. Select a Suitable Moisturizer and Use an Overnight Sleeping Mask
Skin moisturization is one of the most essential parts of skin care. It nourishes the skin and protects it from dryness, dullness, and sagging. Optimum skin moisturization also strengthens your skin’s protective barrier, preventing problems such as infections and dermatitis. (4)
It is suggested to moisturize your skin every time you wash it, preferably when it is still slightly damp. You can use either emollients or humectants for this purpose, which bind moisture to your skin.
You can also use moisturizers with built-in sunscreens or protein rejuvenators that boost skin repair. Make sure to use non-irritating and noncomedogenic moisturizers.
Use water-based moisturizers if you have oily skin or oil-based moisturizers if you have dry skin. Instead of commercial products, you can also use natural moisturizers such as aloe vera gel, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and milk cream. (5)(6)
In addition, using an overnight sleeping mask can work wonders for your skin. These masks are considered to be supercharged versions of moisturizers that contain revitalizing, hydrating, and softening agents that are absorbed by your skin throughout the night. Applying these ultra-intensive overnight masks can give you plump and renewed skin in the morning.
Select an overnight sleeping mask with cocoa butter, shea butter, mango butter, petrolatum, beeswax, squalene, ceramides, elastin, alpha hydroxy acids, peptides, sorbitol, honeysuckle extracts, hyaluronic acid, or vitamins B, E, and C.
You can also use occlusives, such as petrolatum jelly, that prevent evaporation of water to maintaining skin moisturization. (7)
4. Pick Beauty Products Carefully and Follow an Expert-Recommended Regimen
You can find various cosmetic products in drugstores and beauty stores, many of which are advertised to treat a skin or beauty problem or to make the skin youthful.
Many people use multiple such products, including makeup removers, toners, serums, face washes, face oils, moisturizers, eye gels, and eye creams, thinking that these will make their skin healthy and glowing.
While some of these products may work for you, it is vital to keep in mind that cosmeceuticals are not regulated by the FDA and are therefore not tested thoroughly.
Also, there are chances that these products can harm your skin, causing irritation and inflammation, (8) ultimately contributing to skin aging signs, especially if they contain chemicals such as harsh acids, formaldehyde, artificial fragrances, and sulfates.
Therefore, it is best to use only those products and brands that are recommended by experts and practitioners. You can also use products containing scientifically proven ingredients such as vitamin A, retinoids, vitamin C, azelaic acid, ferulic acid, kojic acid, phloretin, and proglylcerin for their different benefits.
However, make sure to use them in limited quantities, and consult your dermatologist if you have any questions on their usage.
5. Schedule a Dermaplaning Procedure
Dermaplaning is an expert-performed dermatological procedure that is generally used for the treatment of deep acne scars. This procedure involves the use of dermatone, a special device with an oscillating blade.
The blade of the dermatone moves back and forth and removes the superficial skin layers that surround acne marks, pockmarks, and other such defects. It also improves fine lines, wrinkles, and dull skin.
Dermaplaning exfoliates the skin by removing the top layer of skin along with facial hair, including peach fuzz, giving the skin an even, smooth, and young appearance. This procedure is generally safe for people of all ages. However, the effectiveness of the procedure may vary according to your skin type, skin color, and medical history.
When going for dermaplaning procedures, your dermatologist will discuss with you specific instructions to follow, but in general, these are some precautions and steps you should observe:
- Avoid the use of exfoliating treatments such as manual and chemical exfoliants and retinols from one week before the procedure.
- Limit sun exposure, especially up to 3 days after the procedure. Moreover, make sure to apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily and seek shade whenever possible.
- Use serums to hydrate your skin after dermaplaning. Since the procedure improves skin absorption, your serums will penetrate better, improving their efficacy.
Dermaplaning is generally used along with a facial or peel when performed by a dermatologist. However, nowadays you can also find at-home dermaplaning kits that contain a less sharp blade and are commonly used by women as an alternative to facial shaving.
Since the blade is less sharp, the effectiveness of the procedure decreases. Moreover, there is a higher risk of cutting yourself or practicing the wrong technique, which can harm your skin. Hence, it is best to consult your dermatologist for a dermaplaning procedure.
6. Perform Facial Yoga
Facial yoga strengthens the face muscles, helping firm the jawline and prevent skin sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles. In fact, regularly practicing facial yoga can have the same benefits as a facelift without the cost and risks.
A study demonstrated that facial exercises done continuously for 20 weeks helped improve lower face and midface fullness. The exercises are believed to work by promoting muscle and tissue development in the cheeks. (9)
While there is more evidence needed to establish the efficacy of these exercises, they are likely to help improve facial muscle tone and thus prevent skin aging signs.
Some yoga exercises that you can try for a younger skin are as follows:
Yoga to reduce double chins
- Sit with your head straight.
- Pout your lips and move them to the left, feeling a pull in your cheek.
- Turn your head to your left and look up at a 45° angle.
- Hold the position for 3–5 seconds.
- Move your head back to the center and repeat.
- Repeat the exercise to your right side twice as well.
Yoga to remove smile lines
- Put your palms to your temples.
- Push up with your hands, lifting your face.
- Open your mouth in an O shape.
- Drop your jaw and hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise twice more.
7. Get Plenty of Rest
Proper rest and sleep are essential to your overall health, including your skin health. One night of not-enough sleep can lead to bags under the eyes, and continued improper sleep over many nights can take a toll on your skin.
While you sleep, your skin repairs and rejuvenates itself, fighting off the free radicals that are responsible for premature aging. Therefore, a lack of sleep can, in fact, lead to the development of and can increase premature skin aging signs. It can delay recovery from photodamage as well. (10)
Therefore, it is essential to get 7–8 hours of sleep every night. It is also suggested to sleep on your back, avoiding touching your face to the pillow as this can constrict your blood vessels and thereby reduce blood circulation to your facial skin.
8. Consume a Healthy Diet and Include Superfoods
Your skin health is largely a reflection of what you consume. Therefore, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber is essential to maintain your skin health.
In general, it is suggested to consume more fruits and vegetables for healthy, glowing, young-looking skin. Conversely, consuming high amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, or alcohol can speed up the skin aging process. (13)
Consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day. This not only helps improve your skin health but also prevents skin problems that cause premature aging. (14)
Include antioxidant-rich vegetables that are colorful, such as bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes, in your diet. These help fight the free radicals and therefore protect the skin from oxidative damage. Also, consume more foods rich in vitamin C, which boosts tissue repair and growth. (15) Foods high in vitamin A or retinoid can improve cell growth and also protect your skin. (16)
In addition, it is suggested to include superfoods in your diet. Superfoods are named so due to their high content of nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
The nutrient-rich composition of superfoods can boost your heart health, support weight loss, increase energy in the body, and even provide antiaging effects to your skin.
Here are some superfoods you can incorporate in your meals:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Fermented foods
- Sweet potato
9. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is vital to maintain your general health. It keeps your metabolism rates up, boosts circulation, reduces stress, and prevents problems such as obesity, neurological problems, and cardiovascular disorders.
Besides, regular exercise is also beneficial for your skin health. It lowers oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in the body while boosting blood circulation. These effects not only prevent skin damage but also increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, improving skin health.
In addition, exercising can improve your immune system, (17) therefore preventing skin infections. It also boosts your immunity by improving the gut microflora, which facilitates better nutritional uptake. (18)
Therefore, while exercising doesn’t reverse skin aging, it can help subdue the appearance of aging signs such as skin sagging, wrinkles, and discoloration. (19) It is suggested to include both cardio exercises and resistance training in your exercise schedule.
Begin with easy exercises such as jogging, brisk walking, swimming, skipping, or bicycling and work your way up. Also, warm up before exercising to prevent injuries.
10. Refrain From Smoking
Smoking is deleterious to your health and a major contributor to premature skin aging. It increases the risk of several diseases and causes inflammation in general. (20)
Cigarette smoke can damage the outer protective layer of your skin, making it look dull and damaged. Moreover, the nicotine in cigarettes constricts your blood vessels, leading to poor blood flow. This, in turn, deprives your skin of the proper supply of essential nutrients and oxygen. (21)
Also, among the smoking-related damages, the breakdown of collagen is a significant cause behind skin sagging. Thus, it is vital to quit smoking and also avoid exposure to secondhand smoke as this harmful habit affects your skin health.
Young-looking, smooth, even-toned, and supple skin is something many people desire. While skin aging is a part of increasing age, premature skin aging occurs due to environmental and physical factors and is highly undesirable.
People tend to spend huge amounts of money on antiaging skin products to prevent skin aging. However, controlling premature skin aging largely requires lifestyle changes such as consuming a healthy diet, daily exercise, getting plenty of sleep, preventing sun exposure, and maintaining skin hygiene, among other things.
These lifestyle changes not only are beneficial for your skin health but also help improve your overall health and well-being.